Islamic State militants on Sunday blew up the temple of Baal Shamin, one of the most important sites in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, said Maamoun Abdul Karim, the country’s antiquities chief.
The temple bombing would be the first time the insurgents, who control swathes of Syria and Iraq and captured Palmyra in May, damaged monumental Roman-era ruins.
“We have said repeatedly the next phase would be one of terrorizing people and when they have time they will begin destroying temples,” Abdul Karim told Reuters.
“I am seeing Palmyra being destroyed in front of my eyes,” he added. “God help us in the days to come.”
A week ago, the militants beheaded Khaled Asaad, an 82-year-old scholar who worked for more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, after detaining and interrogating him for over a month.